April Fools! Tinkoff's joke about sale of team causes confusion

Has the Tinkoff team been sold to a Chinese businessman or is it an elaborate April Fools joke?

Tinkoff-Saxo chases on stage four of the 2015 Tour of Spain (Watson)
(Image credit: Watson)

We've seen a couple of April Fools Day jokes this year, but this announcement by the Tinkoff team wasn't the best.

On one hand it seems like a perfectly plausible story, but now it's turned out to be joke it's in quite poor taste.

The team put a statement on their website and social media on April 1 saying the sale of Tinkoff Sport A/S to an unnamed Chinese businessman had been agreed.

According to the statement, neither party will reveal more until the formal presentation is made in Shanghai on May 2.

"We are extremely happy to be dealing with a major multinational group whose founder is among the best-known Chinese entrepreneurs," said Stefano Feltrin, general manager of Tinkoff, in the statement.

"His strong ties to professional sports are a guarantee the team will continue on the same path its founder, Oleg Tinkov, has followed since 2007

"This agreement will allow Tinkoff to continue its strong performance until 2020 while at the same time will provide access to the growing sports market in Asia."

He added: "Although we cannot yet reveal the identity of the new team owner, we can state that a major Chinese food company will be the team's title sponsor. The new name and identity of the team will be unveiled during the upcoming presentation in Shanghai."

But minutes after we published this original story the team published another statement saying it was just one big joke.

"Given the recent series of sad news that have affected the sport of cycling, we thought that such a humorous news would lighten up the spirits," the statement said.

"We apologize to those without sense of humor who felt bad about the joke. Cheers from everybody at Tinkoff and see you on Sunday on the famous cobblestones of the Tour of Flanders."

We weren't sure whether it was a joke or not, given that it's a completely plausible story and that it's a bit harsh to be making light of the fact that dozens of people are set to become unemployed at the end of the season.

But hey, it's all just a big joke.

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Stuart Clarke is a News Associates trained journalist who has worked for the likes of the British Olympic Associate, British Rowing and the England and Wales Cricket Board, and of course Cycling Weekly. His work at Cycling Weekly has focused upon professional racing, following the World Tour races and its characters.